Karen Rosenblum, founder of the boutique travel agency, talks about how it works now

Karen Rosenblum is booked weeks in advance for her travel services. (Photo courtesy of Karen Rosenblum)

The founder of boutique travel agency Spain Less Traveled, which provides advisory services and handcrafted itineraries for people looking to visit the laid-back European country, is happy to report that her business is booming again. Having lost all of her customers during the pandemic in 2020 and part of 2021, Karen Rosenblum is now booked “several weeks in advance,” she said.

Rosenblum has been an entrepreneur since 2017, when she left her Airbnb job and moved to Madrid. When the lockdowns went into effect, she decided to make the leap to Andalusia, closer to the picturesque beaches that reminded her of her home in San Francisco.

We asked Rosenblum how she works now.

Are you currently distant, personal, or a hybrid?

Away – but I’ve been away since 2011, so it’s nothing new.

What has changed the most in the way you work since the pandemic?

Advising all of my clients about current and ever-changing Covid protocols. Keeps me on my toes!

Will you return to an office or a personal place?

no. Working remotely is easy for me. I can work uninterruptedly and be very productive in a shorter period of time. Of course, freelancing and individual entrepreneurship can feel lonely at times, so fortunately I have an amazing women’s business network group that hosts online co-working four days a week.

Do you have a distinctive work uniform or accessory?

When I have client meetings on Zoom, I wear a shawl or scarf and a bit of lipstick. Fortunately, travel has always been a casual industry, so I can stick to my own style even when I have clients.

What time do you wake up?

Usually by 9 or 9:30 a.m. on weekdays, but I rest on my day. Since I work with clients from the US (and many on the West Coast) from Spain, I often talk to clients until 9 or 10 pm and work very late in the evening.

What is the first thing you do in the morning?

Review my calendar and decide how I will organize my day. Is the weather nice so I can go for a bike ride? When will I have a big enough gap in my day? Is there a co-working session or other meeting I’m attending? How much time do I need to return to my office to prepare for my first client? What non-customer tasks such as follow-up notes, building an itinerary, website/marketing stuff, managing my online community, etc., do I need to get done today? Once I have a plan, I continue my day with coffee and a green juice.

What app do you check the most?

Facebook. In addition to running my business, I have built an active travel community in Spain on that platform. We currently have over 17,000 members, managing and creating content for them are no small tasks.

What is a Zoom background—and (bonus points!) What’s the one thing we don’t see hidden outside your Zoom framework?

My apartment is sunny and spanish. Since my clients will be traveling to Spain, they got a glimpse of it. My bike is always in the background, too.

Rosenblum gets this view daily from her native Andalusia.  (Photo courtesy of Rosenblum)
Rosenblum gets this view regularly from its native Andalusia. (Photo courtesy of Rosenblum)

What is your favorite procrastination activity at WFH?

Laundry is a big thing! Or just arrange things in the house.

The best thing the pandemic has done in the workplace is…

Making others understand the value of working remotely. I’ve been away for over 10 years, as my last job at the company was quite far away. When I first started remote working, my family thought I was unemployed and my friends and boyfriend (at the time) thought I would have unlimited time to do whatever I wanted throughout the day. Nobody really understands remote work and its benefits. Now that many companies are staying away, seeing how productive and happy their employees are with this setup, the idea of ​​working remotely is more appreciated and understood. I could have told you that years ago!

What is your most recent skill?

I have really perfected my coffee making skills.

What do you miss the most from Before the Times?

Not having to deal with Covid questions and confusing measures and travel restrictions with so many variables. And just the ease of travel in general. We probably all took it for granted, honestly. The good news is that travelers are rediscovering the value of travel advisors, planners, and agents.

Rosenblum doesn't need much to convince travelers to come to Spain.  (Photo courtesy of Rosenblum)
Rosenblum doesn’t need much to convince travelers to come to Spain. (Photo courtesy of Rosenblum)

How do you remove stress?

I have a road bike, and I try to go for a ride sometime every day. It gets me out of my home/office, away from my phone and computer, and gives me space to think – all while enjoying a fun adventure.

Where did you go on your last vacation?

This would sound crazy considering I work in travel, but it was a long time. When I travel locally (in Spain), although it’s fun, it’s not a vacation. It is work. I spent a month in California in November visiting friends and family, but had been working with clients and hosting events for my work as well. I guess that means I need a vacation soon.

These were difficult times. What do they desire most?

It can be really hard to ignore events around the world right now, but on a personal level, I’m optimistic (and confident) that I’m weathering the storm with my small travel company. And that my dream of self-employment in the travel industry is still happening and thriving.

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